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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




Around the Dinner Table

By Jan Cline
Feb. 19, 2012

I remember dinnertime when I was a child. My mother was a stay-at-home mom, as most were in those days. We had dinner as a family every night after Dad came home from work. It was a ritual shared by everyone on our block. We knew no other way to have the evening meal, except for the occasional dinner on a TV tray when we were sick.

After my father passed away and my sister moved away from home, I missed those times. I was busy with school, music concerts, friends and youth group. I regret not having spent more time at the dinner table — even if it was just my mom and me.

When I married and had children of my own, we adopted the practice of sitting down together every evening. It was very important to us to gather the children in one place at the same time. The dinner table was sometimes the only time we had to spend together all day. Catching up on the news and keeping track of activities were done in less than an hour, thanks to sharing a meal together. Adhering to certain rules — such as no texting, no TV, no electronic games and no arguing — was often a challenge. But we persevered.

Creating a strong family life centered on God requires time spent together. The demands of sports, school activities, after-school jobs and even church activities can cut into the dinner hour. Communicating Christian principles to our children is difficult when they aren’t around.

The hustle and bustle that fills our lives today is carving away at time spent with our children. It takes commitment and agreement by the whole family to devote at least three nights a week to family dinners, but it’s a compromise well worth the sacrifices.

I recall a TV commercial that asked, “It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where your children are?” I would ask a similar question: “It’s dinnertime. Do you know what your child is eating?” That may be an odd way of putting it, but nutrition has become a major concern for children in America today.

Fast food is a tempting replacement for a healthy meal when the “busy-ness” of life consumes us. The home-cooked meal is just another family tradition in danger of extinction. There are many benefits to gathering around the table that many may not have considered.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at New York City’s Columbia University has done a study on the issue of family dinners. Here is a quote from their findings:

“The researchers found essentially that family dinner gets better with practice; the less often a family eats together, the worse the experience is likely to be, the less healthy the food and the more meager the talk. Among those who eat together three or fewer times a week, 45 percent say the TV is on during meals (as opposed to 37 percent of all households), and nearly one-third say there isn’t much conversation. Such kids are also more than twice as likely as those who have frequent family meals to say there is a great deal of tension among family members, and they are much less likely to think their parents are proud of them.”

Studies show that when families make a point of eating together more often, the kids are less likely to smoke, drink, do drugs, get depressed, develop eating disorders and consider suicide. Similarly, they are more likely to do well in school, delay sexual activity, eat nutritious foods, and even practice good table manners.

It goes without saying that a parent’s spiritual influence is also diminished when there is little or no time spent with the children. Christian families can fall into the same trap as the rest of the world, and our children suffer the consequences. It may seem like a daunting task to renew the tradition of family dinnertime in your home, but avoiding statistics like those mentioned above is a great motivator.

It’s never too late to carve family time into our busy lives. We know that God desires a strong family, and He is faithful to guide and support our decision to make a way. These are difficult times for the family unit. The Christian family has a higher calling — one that will call the world to Christ. Strange as it may sound, it might just start at your dinner table.


JAN CLINE lives in Spokane Valley, Wash.

 

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